Thursday, 5 August 2010

Reading Dilemma N'2

Taste in books is such a personal thing. We all have very different opinions about what makes a good book and, of course, we all have our favourite genres. For this reason I don't think it's fair to force your personal taste in books onto other people and it irks me a great deal when people try to do it to me. By way of example; my wife doesn't particularity like fantasy books so the last book I would ever think of lending her would be one with a dragon or an angry looking dwarf adorning the front cover.

Anyway, a few days ago a work colleague whom I get on with very well came up to me and said “Hey, you like books don't you? Read this one; it's one of my favourites” almost immediately I break out in a cold sweat and find my eyes darting around the room, searching for the nearest door through which to make my escape whilst calling out over my shoulder “So long, sucker!” Alas he is blocking the only exit. I look down at the book he has thrust upon me then start making fevered excuses; “Well, thanks” I say, trying to sound sincere and genuine “But I already have about 30 books I have to read so it'll be ages before I get around to this one” Perhaps I was hoping he would take his book back once he realised it would be a long while before I would get to it. Not a bit of it. He says in such a tone of enthusiasm that I begin to feel something akin to complete despair “This is the best book I have ever read, it changed the way I look at things” I am now going into complete meltdown; I didn't ask to borrow this book, I don't want to borrow this book especially since it now becomes clear my friend loves this book and will be desperately offended if I don't like it. He even has the front to tell me (Not ask me, you understand, but TELL me) that I should put aside all my other books (including the one I have just started) and read his one immediately and, then he drops the bombshell, he has another one to lend me straight afterwards!!

I'm sure by now you are wondering what on earth the book is? It's called 'The Shack' by WM Paul Young and is described as 'Christian fiction'. Well, I am a Christian myself (I even go to church from time to time) but I have very little interest in these kinds of books and I feel more than a little annoyed that I am now expected to put down the book I am reading (and enjoying) In order to go through the potential ordeal of reading 'The Shack' before all the great books in my TBR pile. I am very unhappy about the whole situation especially since I didn't ask to borrow any books from him. Call me over dramatic but he is really testing our relationship!

Of course there's the added dilemma that I might not like it. I can hardly tell someone that I thought one of his favourite books was terrible so I have the added stress of having to tell him a little white lie and say something like “Oh it's alright but not my kind of thing really” (I'm certainly not going to tell him it changed my outlook in life)

Yesterday, two days after lending me the book my work colleague came up to me and asked me if Id read it yet. “No” I replied “I'm still reading Jurassic Park” “Oh no!” he exclaimed 'Oh yes' I thought 'and you'd better get used to the idea'

By Chris


  1. LOL!

    I've heard about this book but it doesn't sound like my cup of tea (the few Christian fiction novels I've read -- by accident -- have done nothing to recommend the genre to me at all). It is annoying when people want you to drop everything and read some book that changed their life, assuming that it will have the same effect on you. Whether that's an actual reading dilemma or just a problem of ignorance and pushiness is another question...

    How are you enjoying Jurassic Park? I thought it was pretty good. The sequel is good, too (and far better than the movie), but I won't officially recommend it to you; I'm sure you have enough in your TBR pile already!

  2. It's always an uncomfortable moment, isn't it? Luckily, my family passes so many books around no one knows where they're going or when they will be back. It's a lot less pressure.

  3. Too funny! I enjoyed reading your very vivid description.

    I have read The Shack. I think I may be the only person in the world who was underwhelmed by it. Everyone else I know who read it responded just the way your friend did--it was THE BEST BOOK EVER and it CHANGED THEIR LIVES. I guess I just couldn't get past the faulty theology. But I have two things to say that may help you: It's short (so it goes by quickly), and it isn't boring. It even has a bit of mystery wrapped up in it.

    Here's an idea: borrow the book (after you finish Jurassic Park, of course!) and simultaneously loan your friend something by Henry Miller. Maybe that will curtail the forced book-borrowings from now on.

    I'm dying to know which book your friend has lined up for you next . . . I'm wondering if it's something like The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

  4. He asked you if you'd read it yet, two DAYS later!?! Oh dear... I'm glad my friends aren't that pushy. I usually wait at least two years before reading recommendations.

  5. Why not just read a few reviews/summaries and then in about a week lie and said you read it and give it back to him? Sounds to me like you're not exactly buddy-buddies with the guy anyway, so why bother actually reading it?

  6. @ La Coccinelle: I've borrowed books from friends before but there has never been any pressure to read the book quickly, I've certainly never been asked to drop the book I was reading in order to read a different book! I haven't seen my colleague for two days but I know when I see him tomorrow the first thing he will say is "Have you read it yet?" I'm dreading it! I am really enjoying Jurassic Park, it could get 5 stars at this rate but plenty of time for me to change my mind...!

    @ Chris: If he had offered the book for me to borrow for an indefinate period there would have been no problem, it's the demands he made that really shocked me and certainly did make me uncomfortable!

    @ Kathy: Despite being a New York Times best seller you'd be surprised how many people have been underwhelmed by it. I've read quite a few negative reviews and by the sound of it I shall be adding to them! I'm afraid I must confess I had never heard of Henry Miller when I read your comment but Jessica knows who he is and found your comment very funny! :o) I am certain the next book he has lined up will be similar to The Shack, I'll keep you posted!

    @ Marieke: If he just gave me the book and said "Read it when you get the chance" it wouldn't be an issue but he is so intense about it its a real pain.

    @ Amanda: Thats not a bad idea but I'll probably end up actually reading it for two reasons;
    1) I'm not very good at lying and don't like doing it
    2) He undoubtedly wants to discuss the book in-depth with me and if I haven't read it he will probably notice and get really upset

  7. Hey, I have an idea. Get a big blank label, write "I HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK YET" on it with a black marker, stick it to your forehead and wear it to work! Problem solved. Temporarily, anyway. Though it may create new problems for you, depending on where you work . . .

  8. Ohhhhh, my sympathies... It's bad enough when friends do it, but now we're running a bookshop I get customers doing it too! They don't even KNOW me, but recommend all sorts of books, mostly that I don't want to read, then they ask me if I've READ the bloody thing every time they come in!

  9. (I loved this post, BTW) I've read it. Even though I am very grounded in my religious beliefs, I was fair and open minded when reading it as someone picked it for a book club choice.

    Verdict: don't bother. For people who are "searching" there are a few nuggets of gold, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it with such enthusiasm. An awkward situation. Good luck with that! :) I'll be waiting to see how you handled it.

  10. Oh, I know just how you just makes me cringe when that kind of thing happens. And I'm the same way with Christian fiction - I'm a Christian, but it's just not my genre. However, I live in America's Bible Belt, and several people have insisted that I would absolutely love The Shack and that it would become one of my favorites. Umm, no thanks?

  11. @ Kathy: I'd love to do that but in my particular job its not a good idea :o) I saw my colleague again today and he didn't mention it so I might be all clear (for now!)

    @ Bookishbarney: That sounds like hell, at least with a friend you can be firm with them and explain your position but the last thing you want to do running a business is upset or annoy a customer, you have my sympathies!

    @ Kim: I'll post about the situation again when it is resolved. The more I think about the impending read (i've nearly finished Jurassic Park) the more tempted I am to follow Amanda's advice and look up the synopsis somewhere and pretend i've read it! It doesn't sound like my cup of tea at all...

    @ Zara: I know what you mean, I can't see myself enjoying Christian fiction. Although I am a Christian I don't like Christian music or movies so I'm almost certain a book will be no different. My colleague and I disagree on some spiritual matters, we always disagree respectfully but we disagree none-the-less and I am afraid he thinks if I read this miracle book I will come around to his way of thinking...

  12. I'm the same way about Christian fiction...not really my thing. Incidentally, not my mom's either. One of her co-workers gave The Shack to her LAST August as a birthday gift and she still hasn't read it!

    This kind of thing happened to me once. My husband's uncle was just over the moon for this book called Cryptonomicon (may have misspelled it). I think it's by Neal Stephenson. Anyway, he loaned it to me and I, like you, did not want to borrow it! Number 1, it was a mass market PB...I hate reading those. Just a weird quirk of mine. Second, I could NOT get into it. Let me just say that I didn't get very far before I abandoned it. I had the book so long that he asked for it back. When I told him I didn't finish it, I think the respect for me diminished in his eyes. Oh each his own. People just can't expect everyone to like all books the same.

    These situations are definitely awkward. The only solution would be, if a co-worker approaches you and says, "I know you like to read," You would have to say, No, sorry, I do not read anymore." Then you just couldn't be seen with a book or reading at work. I don't know if it would be worth it!

  13. theliterarylollipop14 August 2010 at 17:52

    That's hilarious! We all have different tastes in books and sometimes even recommendations from our closest and dearest friends won't fly. My best friend suggested that I read Everything is Illuminated (she loved it) but when I read it, I couldn't wait for it to be over. Oh, well... I think the world would be a very dull place if we all loved the same books, right? Regardless, sometimes we just have to put our foot down and say "no thank you, but the suggestion is much appreciated!"

  14. Ha! Did you write this article?

    Or do you think the writer got the idea from your blog?? ;)

  15. @ Kathy: No, unfortunately I didn't write that article but I'm thinking of legal action for stealing my idea! ;o)

    Thanks for posting the link!